A few days before the Detroit Lions took the field, I highlighted the five key points they would need in order to get a victory. Below is each point and how the Lions actually did on Sunday.
1 – Matthew Stafford: Stafford looked better, didn’t have any interceptions, but it was those on the receiving end of his throws and passes that failed. Dropped balls and fumbles hurt Detroit’s momentum. Then the injury to Stafford was just the icing on a deflated cake at the end of the fourth quarter. He can’t perform for all of the offense, so someone else needs to step up and catch, hold and score with the ball.
2 – Effective Running: Mikel Leshoure had a great game where he saw 26 carries and 4 catches for a total of 134 yards and one touchdown. But his stats were about all the highlight there was for the running game since Kevin Smith saw no action. Even though there were 41 points, 15 of them go to Jason Hanson’s leg. Calvin Johnson also had one touchdown, but has yet to have an explosive game that really showcases his star talent.
2.5 – Jason Hanson: He should have gotten a whole point to himself. Because he would have been the only check mark made for delivering. It actually would have been a check plus because he delivered for himself AND punter Ben Graham who was injured and Hanson covered for.
3 – Improved Secondary: There was actually regression, if that is possible. Besides not making tackles, not putting any pressure on the quarterback and not getting more than one measly sack, the secondary drew a lot of penalties. They let the Tennessee Titans come up with big plays that gave them the momentum. Momentum, plus home field advantage, is always a bummer when it isn’t in your favor.
4 – Defensive Line: Sloppy. No pressure. No tackling. Where was the mean and evil Ndamukong Suh? Has he backed off because he doesn’t want to get penalized? Is he tired of paying fines? The line needs to hold stronger and not allow 40-plus points to be scored against them. Period.
5 – No Overconfidence: They didn’t come out over confident, but they came out lackluster. Lackluster can be just as bad or even worse. There were times when they could have taken the momentum and turned it in to more points, but third down conversions either failed, the ball was turned over or the Titans had a breakaway run to get the momentum tipped in their favor.
All five points need to be worked on versus the upcoming game against the Minnesota Vikings, who are seeing a momentum surge since their stunning win over the San Francisco 49ers last week. At least the Lions have home field advantage on their side next week.